There is no such thing as a 100% secure network. But, the more you secure your network - the more time hackers will have to spend in order to gain access. In other words - potential intruders will NOT find it worth while trying to gain access.

In this article we will concentrate on basic security precautions concerning wireless access points (WAP), e.g. wireless routers.
Following the advice below will give you adequate WAP security.

Password

When you buy a new WAP it is "protected" with a, usually very simple, standard password. These passwords are useless, since hackers know them by heart.
Change it to a password consisting of at least eight characters - preferably combining letters, numbers and symbols.

 

SSID Broadcasting

SSID broadcasting should be disabled, if possible. If not, a WAP will broadcast "messages" so that clients (laptops etc) can easily find and identify the network including its name. This broadcasting of Service Set Identifiers (SSIDs) can often be disabled - making it harder for intruders to find your network.
If disabled you will have to enter the SSID manually when connecting to your network.

 

SSID - Service Set Identifier

The SSID is also the name of your wireless network. Connecting to a network requires that you know the SSID. WAPs come with a standard SSID. Hackers know those standard SSIDs, making it easier for them to find and hack networks. Knowing that, you should change the default SSID (and disable broadcasting as mentioned below) to make your wireless network more secure.

Firewall

Firewalls are used to monitor and filter traffic to and from a network or computer and can be a hardware device (i.e. in the WAP/router) or a program you install on the PC. Most WAPs have a firewall you can, and should, use to monitor and filter all traffic between your network and the internet. Install a software firewall on each PC connected to your network - wired and/or wireless - to stop potential malware infections from spreading in your network. In addition, all computers must have anti-malware software installed.

Wireless Encryption

By using encryption you can prevent unauthorized people from accessing your network and/or reading your communication or files. When you buy a WAP (router etc) encryption is included - either WPA and/or WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access).
If you have an old device with WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) technology, which is less secure - check the manufacturer's website for updates making it possible to use WPA/WPA2. In the case of there being no WPA/WPA2 updates available it is recommended to replace it with a new, more secure router (or other WAP) - or at least change the password on a regular basis.

WPA/WPA2 must be enabled by you in the router's (etc) setup configuration. Refer to the manual or ask for help in our tech forum.
Choose a password with at least 8 characters and do not use names, words found in a dictionary etc. Combining letters and numbers is a good idea. Symbols, like / and %, can often be used and will make the password "stronger" - i.e. more difficult to hack. A strong password looks something like this: BmN5$e%E9.

MAC Address Filtering

All netcards, wired and wireless, have a unique ID called a MAC address. Most routers have a function to filter MAC addresses. By specifying which MAC addresses should have access to your network you can lock uninvited guests out. MAC addresses not entered will not be granted access.

To retrieve a computer's MAC address, type ipconfig /all at a command prompt. The MAC address is shown as Physical address.



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